The Guanajuato Mine Complex is Great Panther Silver's flagship operation. The property consists of 28 claims, totaling 1,107 hectares. The concessions are 100%-owned by Great Panther's Mexican subsidiary, Minera Mexicana El Rosario, S.A. de C.V. The main claim block covers 4.2 km of the prolific Veta Madre vein structure in the City of Guanajuato in central Mexico.
For the first quarter of 2014, the Guanajuato operation processed 55,280 tonnes, up 5% compared to the same period in 2013. Ore grades were 128 grams/tonne ("g/t") Ag and 2.19g/t Au. Metal production included 199,059 Ag oz and 3,498 Au oz, or 408,942 Ag eq oz, which represented an increase of 2% over the same period in 2013.
Metal production at Guanajuato originated mainly from the gold-rich Santa Margarita mine followed by Cata and Los Pozos. Pre-production mill feed from San Ignacio development ore contributed somewhat to overall production.
For the quarter, plant metallurgical performance recorded a slight decline from both the first and fourth quarters of 2013 with metal recoveries of 87.3% for silver and 90.1% for gold, primarily due to processing lower grade ore.
A satellite operation to the main Guanajuato Mine Complex. The San Ignacio mine started commercial production in June 2014. The mine is currently operating at a run rate of approximately 700 tonnes per.
Topia is a high-grade silver-lead-zinc Mine in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Durango State, where silver has been mined intermittently since the 1500's. Great Panther owns 100% of the concessions that comprise 6500 hectares and are accessible by road and air. Topia includes 11 small mining operations all feeding a central plant.
For the first quarter of 2014, ore processed at Topia increased 2% to a record 17,351 tonnes compared to the same period in 2013. Ore grades were 344g/t Ag, 0.56g/t Au, 1.90% lead ("Pb") and 2.70% zinc ("Zn"). Metal production included 171,609 Ag oz, 168 Au oz, 308 Pb tonnes and 431 Zn tonnes. Total metal production was a record 258,407 Ag eq oz which is 24% higher than the same period in 2013. The increase was primarily a function of improved grades over the first quarter of 2013. Silver grades alone improved 15%.
Plant metallurgical performance was 89.4% for silver, 53.8% for gold, 93.4% for lead and 91.9% for zinc. Various process optimization measures have been implemented at the processing plant and others are underway. Crushing capacity increased 48% as a result of the new cone crusher installed late last year.
For 2017, the Company expects a production level of 4.0 to 4.1 million Ag eq oz (at a 70:1 ratio) from its Mexico operations. An updated NI 43-101 resource estimate for the GMC will be released later this month, however, due to necessary cut-off dates, recent high grade drill results will not be included in this estimate. Commissioning of the new tailings storage facility at Topia and resumption of milling is expected in the first quarter, with the gradual processing of ore stockpiled during the shutdown to be conducted through the balance of the year.
Completion of the recently announced acquisition of the Coricancha Mine in Peru is anticipated to take place before the end of the first quarter. Initial activities will include evaluations of current mine and processing infrastructure, underground drilling, and initiation of a Preliminary Economic Assessment. Depending on the outcome of the latter, development in support of operations is expected to commence in early- to mid-2018. A resource update is also scheduled for the second quarter 2017.
For the reported periods of 2016, the Company delivered reductions in cash cost and All-In Sustaining Costs ("AISC") of 60% and 31% respectively. For 2017, the Company expects cash cost to increase due to increases in site costs and increased expenditures on definition drilling aimed at reducing grade variability and improving mine planning. AISC is also expected to increase due to the increase in cash cost and greater investment in drilling, development and capital projects. In particular, AISC will reflect the non-recurring capital expenditures in the new tailings facility at Topia which will primarily be incurred in the first quarter of 2017. Based on current plans and projections, the Company's cash cost and AISC guidance for 2017 is US$5.00 – 6.00 and US$14.00 – 16.00, respectively.
The technical information contained in this news release has been reviewed and approved by Robert F. Brown, P. Eng., who is the Qualified Person (QP) for the Guanajuato Mine Complex and the Topia Mine under the meaning of NI 43-101. Aspects relating to mining and metallurgy are overseen by Ali Soltani, Chief Operating Officer for Great Panther.